Here's how it's done

Greg Cermak, a NASA-JPL Solar System volunteer works to adjust a SolarScope made in France so that it will project an image of the sun which is safe to view without special lenses or glasses. Cermak came from Portland to the Longview Public Library with members of the Friends of Galileo to demonstrate safe ways of viewing the upcoming eclipse on Monday. More than 150 people came to the programs and viewing.

Bill Wagner, The Daily News

As the moon covers the sun Monday morning, Toledo skydivers will drop from the sky, aiming for a small patch of grass along Seventh Avenue in Longview.

Coffee shops and bakeries will offer “eclipse brownies” and “eclipse cookies.”

At Lower Columbia College, instructors will have telescopes with sunlight filters to safely watch the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in America since 1918.

The Kelso-Longview area is outside the path of totality, which will sweep through Central Oregon at about 10:20 a.m. and speed across the heartland to South Carolina. But there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation nevertheless: Astronomers say 97 to 98 percent of the sun will be blotted out in Cowlitz County.

Businesses and others are getting ready for it.

“It’s a rare moment. Some people are thinking it will be a spiritual experience, something that will be a turning point in our lives,” said Pat Sari, president of Columbia Ford.

The Longview dealership is hosting a community eclipse party from 9 a.m. to noon Monday. The dealership has ordered 1,500 brats and 1,000 eclipse cookies from Safeway. It will sell three cars for $5 through a drawing. It has hired two skydivers from Toledo Skydive to jump out of a plane during the eclipse and land in a grassy field across Seventh Avenue from its car lot. The dealership will offer some eclipse car specials, prizes and free eclipse glasses, too, though it’s uncertain how long the specs will last.

“Why are we doing this? My brother (Phil Sari, a business partner) is asking me the same thing,” Sari quipped Wednesday afternoon.

He said he got the idea after a fellow Rotarian asked how businesses would keep employees productive Monday morning during the eclipse, when most will presumably want to gawk at the celestial show. His answer: Throw a party.

“We’ll make a problem an opportunity and do something fun,” he said. And in answer to his brother, he said. “I know we’ll sell at least three cars.”

The Red Leaf cafe, which has two locations in Longview and another in Woodland, is shutting down for 15 minutes just before and after 10:20 a.m. Monday so employees can glimpse the near totality.

“This is a big deal. Some of our ... workers may never get to see this again,” said General Manager Ann Lucas, noting that the business only closes for Christmas.

Red Leaf will offer “eclipse brownies” topped by an orange sun. The cafe has concocted a special eclipse drink for the day, a dark chocolate orange mocha. And it will join the party at Columbia Ford, serving free coffee.

At LCC, a more cerebral eclipse experience awaits. At 9 a.m. in the Health & Sciences Building, instructor Michael Kohlmeier will give a brief presentation about the eclipse and will make filtered telescopes available starting at about 9:45 to watch as the eclipse develops. At 10:20, the eclipse maximum, all but a sliver of the sun will be blotted out for about two minutes.

No registration is required for any of the LCC events. A limited number of eclipse glasses will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. They also may be purchased at the LCC bookstore off 15th Avenue.

Contact City Editor Andre Stepankowsky at 360-577-2520.


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